The St. Louis BMW Club (a chapter of the BMW Car Club of America) was founded in November of 1970 by a group of BMW enthusiasts. The club was formed to serve BMW fans in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In the early 70’s BMW’s were a relatively rare sight and owners almost invariably flashed their headlights in greeting when they spotted another Bimmer.
St. Louis’ lone BMW dealer, Webster Auto Service (later Autohaus of Clayton) was an early Club supporter. Club founders included Jay & Imo Whiteside, Ted & Share Haines, Tom & Pat Killoren, Pete & Nancy Robison, Jack & Ellie Mandel, Myrna Lazier and Tom Sehr. Several of the Club’s founders remain BMW owners and club members today.
In 1978 Wentzville’s Mid America Race Way became home to the Chapter’s first Performance Driving School. Directed by Mike Heyer, this was to be one of a long line of driving events that would allow BMW owners to push their cars, and themselves, to the edge of the driving envelope.
Written by Tom Sehr on 02-15-2007
Still a current member of the St. Louis BMW Club
In 1982, Jeanne and Reid Vann created an event which would become the St. Louis Chapter’s claim to fame, Gateway Tech. Held at the Harley Hotel in Earth City, this first GT marked the beginning of a yearly event that would attract members from all over the country, and showcase some of BMW’s greatest creations.
Today the traditions created thirty years ago are still around, along with other great events for the next generation of BMW cars and drivers. Driving schools are now held at the first-rate Gateway International Raceway. With its large oval and challenging infield course, GIR is a great place to put your car, and your skills, to the test.
Gateway Tech, which called St. Louis home for over 20 years, now makes its way around the country as a national BMW CCA event. By sending Gateway Tech on the road we’ll be making the event more accessible to BMW fans around the country. Also, because each host chapter will be responsible for running the event, it allows us to concentrate on other events for local members.
In the end though, it’s not the big events that make this club great. It’s the friendly spirit of the BMW Enthusiasts you meet in the process. You’ll find lots of them at the driving schools, various social meets, road rallies, and other events. Whether you’re searching for repair tips, highway war stories, or tall tales of track prowess, you’re sure to find someone to bend your ear and lend one in turn.
St. Louis has a great chapter. If you’re in the area (about 100 miles really) please consider signing up with the BMW CCA and join in your local BMW fan community. If you are a member and haven’t been in touch much, feel free to email or send in comments or suggestions. Also feel free to come by and watch events, you don’t have to pay anything to get a feel for what they’re like.